Platzová, Magdaléna: The hollow sound of an empty matryoshka

Years ago, the husband was on a business trip to Russia and brought the children two painted wooden matryoshka dolls. He said, and I believe he couldn’t buy anything else for the girls. And he wanted to bring something, he always drives. They played with the squeaky creatures for a bit and then put them in the library, where they still stand, now more than a month out of favor, facing the backs of books.

The hollow sound of an empty matryoshka doll

Matryoshka dolls and vodka. What else? Pies and borscht? They have it elsewhere. Chochlome. Icons. Crepes? I am trying to understand what Putin wants to impose on the world, what he wants to offer as a counterweight to liberalism, democracy and other Western values, against which Russia has waged a bloody proxy war in Ukraine.

Russia sees itself as a savior who is called by history and called by God (God is new here, it wasn’t during the Soviet Union) to restore and save the world. Let’s imagine for a moment that this is the case. This Russia is really the basis of a kind of new Eurasia, which will overwhelm the so-called West with its influence. On what does the future Great Russian Empire intend to base this global influence?

Marriage, much less empire, cannot be maintained by force, especially when one does not have it. I recently watched a historical film about the German occupation of France, and the impossibility presented itself before me in all its absurdity. How did Hitler really imagine maintaining his millennial empire? On what? Fear and brute force can be used for a few years, but so what?

Some ideas or inspiration are needed to offer something. Haunting a common enemy can connect isolated and frustrated individuals for a while, but it’s not enough.

Russia does not have a philosophy or a cuisine like China. He has no yoga. He has no zen. There is no mango or sushi. He doesn’t even have Hollywood. He doesn’t have pizza. Russia has nothing at all to appeal to a wider audience, nothing relevant to this world today. State-corrupted orthodoxy interests no one except Serbs, and only because they have no choice.

Russia can enchant some intellectuals with literature, music and cinema. But the same level of artistry can be found elsewhere – and for less.

It’s been about three or four years, I don’t remember exactly, that Russia tried to strengthen its “cultural” presence in the West and to reach ordinary people who do not read novels and do not listen to classical music . The effort was evident in Lyon, even in our neighborhood. One Saturday, a portable podium was set up in Place Carnot, from where cushions were taken away throughout the afternoon. Make balloons. And for about a month, our Lyon airport was adorned with a Russian decor, apart from the cut-out paper matryoshkas hanging from the ceiling.

Matryoshka. One of the first perceptions of a child of the former Eastern bloc. We unfolded and folded it indefinitely, looking for the smallest, poking our noses into the cavity of the turned wood. I still feel it today.

So apparently Putin and his court whisperer Dugin imagine their empire as a matryoshka doll. Great Russia, in which other countries are nicely stacked, by size: Armenians, Georgians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Lithuanians, Estonians and others. But when the big one empties, it’s as hollow as a barrel.

Awesome Nothing. Better to rinse with vodka.

Russia is attacking the Ukraine, it’s like a drunkard who, despairing of the ruins of his own life, strangles his own wife and shouts: Here! The self-pity of the murderer, the most disgusting psychological loop, ingeniously described by Dostoyevsky.

After all, the whole Russian disaster we are witnessing is also described in Bunin, Gogol, Chekhov, Tolstoy, Pushkin, Bulgakov and others. From the statements of Putin’s strategic foreign affairs adviser, admitted by the fascist, satanist, occultist and misogynist Alexander Dugin, we hear the drunken chatter of all these crumbling self-destructive figures, before it ends in a fiasco , it is enough to attract as many people as possible in distress.

I deliberately do not write Russian tragedies, because it is not a tragedy. In tragedy, the hero enters into an insoluble conflict with his own destiny, he is put in a situation that he did not choose and to which he is subjected. Ukraine is in a tragic situation. Like many other countries which have the misfortune to be in the immediate vicinity of Russia.

Russia is not tragic, it is only neglected, unhappy and dissatisfied with itself. Like a person who constantly wants to be something other than himself, to have something other than his own, who is torn between the monkey against the other and the hatred of the monkeys that he pursues. Who consoles himself by knowing something that others do not know, and at the same time collapses under the weight of the suspicion that he knows nothing at all. The emptiness of its own illusion, of its own lie, which falls on our heads again and again, is truly terrible, because one day we will die of it. And he will be alone.

Under the influence of the ideologue Dugin, Putin can form an opinion about himself and about Russia. But the idea that he’s really just a humanly underdeveloped, infamous, and fruitless villain that his own mother should cry over doesn’t get rid of him. Even though he built fifty palaces and had toilets made of diamonds, not just gold.

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© Madeleine Platzova

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